A Novel Called Jazz Baby

Block Party Badge(1)

Hi and WELCOME to Rave Reviews Book Club’s BACK-TO-SCHOOL BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY!  Location: Beem’s Blog, Lansing, Michigan. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win prizes!

Sorry, due to postal costs, my giveaways are open to those within the U.S.

 

***

Here’s What I’m Giving Away Today:

* Autographed copies of the Jazz Baby paperback.

* Handy book/tote bags with a screen print of a classic novel on both sides.

* Bookmarks, so you won’t lose your place.

**This giveaway is now closed! But we have WINNERS!!!**

Congratulations to:

*Rea Nolan Martin

*Bette Stevens

*Nonnie Jules

*Marc Estes

*Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

 

***

Number of Winners for this stop:  5

***

Just what is Jazz Baby all about?

Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten is a young girl with big dreams. She has the sort of voice that convicts sinners simply through song. But Baby has bigger aspirations than singing spirituals to that Mississippi congregation on Sunday mornings during the summer of 1925. The girl yearns to sing jazz in the clubs way up in New York City. Her father is her biggest supporter, standing behind the girl every step of the way—until he passes away suddenly. Her mother, accused in the father’s demise, follows him to the grave shortly thereafter.

So what’s a poor white-trash orphan girl supposed to do to answer the call of her dreams? Her strict, Bible-believing Aunt Francine has ideas of her own for this tiny girl with the big voice. She brokers a marriage between Emily and Jobie Pritchett, the preacher’s son.

TXStJohnCatholicChurch1920sFCHC-CH

Emily Ann is a composite of several girls I’ve known over the years. There is a psychological element to this character that comes from reality, as harsh and dark as that might seem to some readers. She demanded to be written into existence. I could hear her voice, with that Mississippi lilt, calling out to me from the ether, arguing that it’s her time, so pick up that pen, author man, and get to writing.

What Jazz Baby is meant to be is a trip into the year 1925; a shared summer with one young girl trying to find her way in life, in the world of her day. I spent untold hours in researching the era and that region of the country, and human behavior in general. The thing about human behavior is, it doesn’t change, no matter the era in which we live. Stories from that era, told to me by my own grandfather, seem to suggest that the young people from the 1920s sought out the same things young people from the 2010s search after.

ht_Bar_081027_main

These weren’t asexual, sober, boring people back then. Not at all. The stories I heard, either directly or through eavesdropping, told tales of young and vibrant lives, of men and women on the prowl for good times, cheap booze, and dirty sex. Not at all different from today. (Google “vintage porn” and see how many nudie pics from the 1920s pop up.) The thing is, today we see our grandparents (mine are long dead) as old people who spend a lot of time in church, doing good and Godly things. But they were young once. Young, and quite different from who they are today. Humans grow older, we mature, we change. It’s part of the life experience.

I found it interesting that opium was a popular recreational drug in use during that era. Marijuana grew wild in parts of the country, going unmolested by the local authorities, many of whom would consider it silly to dedicate time, money, and effort in trying to eradicate a weed. The young people of the 1920s, the partiers, were the very ones partaking of these forbidden fruits.

networking-11

One reviewer referred to the characters in Jazz Baby as “Blue Velvet-type characters.” I like that comparison, though that movie never once crossed my mind as I wrote the book. These are indeed a collection of strange and bizarre types. I’ve always loved stories that break from the normal novel template. Good, quirky characters are a blast to create. The idea for the character called “Pig” came from a documentary film on 1920s movie star Fatty Arbuckle. He’d watched his career ruined through a sexual scandal that had no basis in truth. But in Jazz Baby, this character truly is scandalous. He really has those “unnatural” appetites.

Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle has his tie tightened in clip from the film 'When Comedy Was King', 1960. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle.

Even Emily Ann has a bit of the quirky in her. She’s fearless, reckless, and foolish, the way she traipses around the streets of New Orleans, running through the red-light district once known as Storyville, where she considers an invitation to allow her virginity to be auctioned to the highest bidder in a Storyville whorehouse. She’s a fan of bootleg whiskey, opium, and cigarettes, and she hasn’t a care in the world. Sexuality awakens in the girl, has her pondering the things that can take place between a boy and a girl–or between two girls. Is she bi-sexual? Labels mean nothing to Emily. And neither does race, as she spends much of her time in the company of “colored” jazz musicians, sharing intimacy with a certain piano player.

8c00661u[1]

But the streets are quite dangerous for a young girl of Emily’s size and age. Not everyone she meets has her best interests at heart. This is where that reckless side could cost her more than she’s able afford. Dark characters have their own ideas for this girl, how best to profit from her talents–even her father’s best friend proffers his own schemes.

It took me upwards near ten years to complete this novel, with all the rewrites, the research, and a two-year abandonment. It is available at Amazon http://www.tinyurl.com/bbj4my7 as a paperback or an ebook for Kindle.

Advertisements

95 thoughts on “A Novel Called Jazz Baby

  1. Jan Hawke

    Great piece, Beem – as you know I loved Jazz Baby so it’s wonderful to hear some of the background to how it got written. When I was reading, I did wonder if there was a Fatty Arbuckle reference in there – there’s a magic when you weave true events and people into fiction, and it certainly worked wonders with Baby’s tale as it fairly fizzes with earthy, bluesy energy. Have a great time for this party day – you’ll find me in the cocktail lounge! 😉

    Like

    Reply
  2. reviewsbynonnie

    Beem, you know how impressed I am that you, a MAN, wrote such a great piece, authentically, in the voice of a teenaged girl! That, is talent, my friend. I love the book, I love the trailer, I hope your comments top 100 today. But knowing you, they will! When you’re ready to give away prizes, I’m over here waiting with Jan, where all the FREE booze is! Have a blast today!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thanks, Nonnie. It’s always such an honor finding your comments on my blog! Thank you for all of the wonderful support you have given to me and my work. I am truly grateful to you and Rave Reviews Book Club.

      Like

      Reply
  3. Shirley Harris-Slaughter

    Great post Beem. You put it together nicely. Now I’m not well-versed in art but isn’t that a famous artist that we supposedly learned about in college? I know Picasso and Van Gogh but barely. lol I like the period in which you write about, especially the clothes.

    Like

    Reply
  4. jinlobify

    I don’t know, but I spent the night outside your party gate waiting for the door to open, so I can be the first in, but you just kept me waiting. 🙂 Thank God I’m in now. I see… the part is in full swing already. I love the sweet baby, who is she?…Let me see…. I think I love everything else. Well Beem, I’m having fun already. 🙂

    Like

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Welcome to my humble blog, Joy! I actually opened the gates a little early last night–so I could get to bed before midnight. I am so thrilled to find you here. Have fun, mingle with the other guests.

      Like

      Reply
  5. Rhani D'Chae

    Hi Beem. This is a fantastic post! It’s always fun to get background information on characters and plot, especially when its for a book that I really loved. I was yanked into Emily Ann’s world, & held there as a most willing captive until the very last page. I wish you much succes with Jazz Baby. Both you and Emily Ann certainly deserve it. 😀

    Like

    Reply
  6. Ernestine Rose

    Hello, Beem! This website is awesome! I love your book trailer and character descriptions! I’m gonna get Jazz Baby today! This is the best stop so far! The whole tour is a wonderful idea! I know you had a hand in the planning! Thank you for all you do!

    Like

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thank you so very much, Ernestine. I truly appreciate your visit and your wonderful comments. Nonnie Jules deserves all the credit for this amazing event–and for my book trailer. Thank you for stopping by.

      Like

      Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thank you, Rebecca. I am so humbled by the amazing comments I’m reading here. Your comments are certainly in my top three favorites today. Thank you for visiting.

      Like

      Reply
  7. Larry Hyatt

    I’m a fan of the book. It sure seemed to have captured New Orleans at that time. I enjoyed my families stories, too and Ancestry.com told me some things they didn’t want anyone to know. Great post.

    Like

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thank you, Larry. I appreciate your visit and your comments. I’m considering using Ancestry.com to trace my mother’s side of our family. My grandfather already traced my father’s side. Could be quite interesting. Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

      Reply
  8. reanolanmartin

    every generation thinks we/they invented fun. marijuana was not discovered in the 1960’s! and the 30’s were a very dark time. such an interesting backdrop for a novel!

    Like

    Reply
  9. Gwen Plano

    Great blog, Beem. I loved reading about the evolution of the book…and can’t wait to read it! You are an amazing writer…with a rather incredible talent in terms of character development. Thank you and best wishes!!

    Like

    Reply
  10. Brian O'Hare

    Always loved that era, Beem. I remember well the stylised figures in the advertisements of my childhood, the old musty chemist shops with ads making the most outlandish claims for different elixirs, the sepia coloured photographs, and the awesome pervasiveness of The Great Gatsby. Une belle epoch, indeed.

    Like

    Reply
  11. johnfioravanti

    Great background piece on Jazz Baby, Beem! It is no wonder that the book turned out to be fabulous considering it was ten years in the making! The trailer is excellent! Have a great time on the Block Party today, my friend!

    Like

    Reply
  12. harmonykentonline

    I absolutely loved reading Jazz Baby! What a great background piece, Beem, and you’ve evidently done your research. Very best of luck with everything. 🙂

    Like

    Reply
  13. stevek1889

    Ten years Beem! Respect. But you really need to get your act together: Mohana can knock a novel out in 6 months!
    Some interesting stuff on your blog: especially your thoughts on writing. Thanks. I found myself nodding along to most of it. Proper, grown-up writing. Must admit, I’ve been judging Jazz Baby by the cover and the title (not my favourites to be honest – I’m sure you’d prefer honesty) but since I am not supposed to do that, and since I seem to be agreeing with your outlook, I’ll download the sample and add it to my list.

    Like

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thanks, stevek1889! I must admit that I, too, have hated that cover for quite some time. But I am happy to announce, I am busy working on a new cover that I hope to unveil soon. Thank you very much for your visit. I appreciate your honesty.

      Like

      Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Hi, Marc! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it. I am also looking forward to our interview on Saturday’s RRBC Beyond The Cover blog talk radio program. This will be a great opportunity for you to introduce yourself to many new potential readers!

      Like

      Reply
  14. kimwrtr

    Well, it was called the “Roaring Twenties” after all. I see the twenties as a big party enjoyed by everyone pretty much. I think everyone has a “wild” stage, even if you were brought up strict, most will still eventually have a party time. I recently purchased “Jazz Baby” and looked forward to reading it.

    Like

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thank you, Kim. Your comments are truly appreciated. I think of the 1920s as the teenage/young adult years for the nation, before the stock market collapse of 1929 forced those wild kids to grow up and become the straight-laced adults of the 1950s. Ah, but then a new wild bunch came along in the 1960s. It’s a cycle, really. You are absolutely correct; most people eventually have their wild time. Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

      Reply
      1. kimwrtr

        Oh and the 70’s were also a party time. Those were my teenage years. I always loved the 20’s time era too. I wrote research articles, oh wow, probably 20 years ago now, late 90’s for a site who wanted to produce articles for authors to use for research. I wrote them around WWI and WWII – before, during, after, and between the wars. I have them now on my Web site for free under the Non-fiction header. I have my own book (never completed) set around WII, about 1945 just as the war ends.Hope to finish it one day.

        Like

      2. beemweeks Post author

        The early to mid 1980s were my teen years. Definitely party time! As for your book: finish it. You’ll never truly know what you have until it’s in the hands of readers!

        Like

  15. GUNDERSTONE

    Hi Beem – you’re my first stop today. Thanks for posting some more about Jazz Baby; I need to blow out some of my reading back log. I’ve been so busy writing I fell way behind. Despite that, I need to get a copy and get it on the TBR list.

    Like

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thanks for visiting, Jason. I appreciate your comments. I understand all about a back log of TBR titles. I’ve got a hundred or more on my Kindle and on my shelves!

      Like

      Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thanks, Gordon. Everybody smiles for the camera, but that doesn’t always mean they’re happy! And that’s the stuff of great stories! A false smile conceals many a dark secret. Look at that! Time to start another story! Thanks for stopping by, Gordon.

      Like

      Reply
  16. Stephen Geez

    As the privileged one who got to read early drafts of the different versions of the story, I’m always proud to see people respond so positively to the final product, not just in how it moves them, but in how much they see in the depths of realistic characters interacting with such historical flavor. Very few can claim such an accomplished work for a first novel. Any readers who’ve not yet discovered this wondrous and heartfelt piece, now is the time!

    Like

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Hello, Mr. Geez! I knew you’d show up. You may stop by the bar, but just remember, if we see you wearing a lamp shade upon your head, we’re demanding your car keys and setting you up with a designated driver. (Of course I’m only kidding.) Thanks for your comments. They mean a lot to me. You played a huge role in getting Jazz Baby published. Thank you for that. Now, let’s get this new cover finished so the old one will stop scaring readers from taking a chance!

      Like

      Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Hi, Adam. I truly appreciate your visit. It is a pleasure and an honor to have a RRBC Book of the Month author leaving comments on my little blog. Now then, what swag is it to which you refer?

      Like

      Reply
  17. Traci Sanders

    Jazz Baby was one of the first books I read by an RRBC member and I was blown away by your talent, Beem. I will never forget the poetic flow of your words in this book and would LOVE to have a paperback copy of it. I hope I win! Have a great blog party day!!

    Like

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Gosh, Traci, you’re making me blush! Thank you for your kind words. I am so glad that you paid my blog a visit and left a comment. Thank you for all you do in support of others. You are incredible.

      Like

      Reply
  18. Bethany Turner

    Beem, I honestly can’t remember another book about which I have heard as much universal praise and excitement as Jazz Baby. It is slowly making its way up my TBR, and this post just got me looking forward to it even more! Great post, great work!!

    Like

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thanks, Bethany. If you think the buzz over the book is loud, wait until you hear the buzz for the movie, which will star… No, wait. That hasn’t happened yet. That was just a dream… Thank you for visiting, Bethany. I appreciate your comments.

      Like

      Reply
  19. Natalie Ducey

    Hi Beem! I just have to say I’m a huge fan of your work. I’m thoroughly enjoying Slivers of Life and Jazz Baby is on my must read list. Your creativity and style of writing are truly inspiring. All the best! 🙂

    Like

    Reply
  20. Michael Lynes

    Hi Beem! Thanks for taking us on a guided tour of “Jazz Baby” – very illuminating and interesting! I have to ask – is your ‘cover art’ original? It looks like an impressionistic acrylic or oil – very well done!

    The RRBC Back to School Book/Blog Block Party is a blast – have so much fun learnign about the folks who are part of the RRBC!

    Best of luck with your books – MikeL

    Like

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Hi, Michael. A true pleasure to find your comment here. I appreciate your visit. The cover art is an acrylic, I believe. An artist by the name of Moonfire created it. As art work goes, I really like the image. As a book cover, not so much. I am currently at work on a new cover for the book.

      Like

      Reply
  21. lizziechantree

    Fantatsic blog Beem! I missed this yesterday with the time difference. I must have looked too early! It’s so interesting to learn about your inspirations and characters. Thank you for offering everyone at RRBC such tremendous support. You deserve a fabulous party!

    Like

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thank you, Lizzie. I am so glad that you visited. Yeah, that time difference gets confusing at times. I’m just happy you made it. Thank you for stopping by my blog.

      Like

      Reply
  22. ~Mar

    I’m a little late to the party, but…

    Great post, Beem!! I LOVED Jazz Baby, definitely a favorite of mine. Such an amazing read, showcasing some awesome writing skills, that I would recommend to anyone. 🙂

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s